Mat’s September Letter

August Bank Holiday evening found me watching a programme about the conspiracy theories surrounding the terrible terrorist atrocity of 9/11. It amazes me that people choose to believe in a plot by the US Government and to doubt the factual accounts that we are all familiar with. Yes, there are questions still outstanding but in the confusion of that dreadful day some issues will never be resolved.

In the West we live in a culture that is very sceptical about institutional pronouncements, scientific fact and long held religious belief. Sometimes we can de drawn into this.

In his excellent blog, Professor James Smith reminds us that doubt has always been a part of Christian experience. The saints from Thomas to Theresa have struggled with doubt. But Smith contrasts that with the scepticism of the modern age. Our scepticism tries to reduce God down to the size of our belief. ‘If I can’t believe it then it can’t be true’. When we do this we place ourselves as the final arbiters of truth. But is God subject to our doubts? Surely God is God, and the truth is always true even when I have doubts about it. To quote Smith “It’s not a matter of coming up with a Gospel I can live with; it’s a matter of learning to live with all of the scandal of the Gospel—and that can take a lifetime.”

The Psalms are full of occasions where the Psalmist is struggling to believe and yet returns in faith to God, even if he can’t understand. He submits his belief to God’s truth (see Psalm 73Open Link in New Window for example). The doubters prayer (see Mark 9:24Open Link in New Window) expresses faith in the face of doubt “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief”. It doesn’t say “Lord I believe, conform to the measure of my unbelief.”

This September we will spend some time re-visiting our Vision and Mission as a church “Living for Jesus: knowing, growing and going”. Knowing is about a life time commitment to getting to know Jesus personally through scripture, through others past and present and through our living relationship with God the Father through the Holy Spirit. As we get to know God we will experience doubt but I pray that we may each know the presence of God which puts those doubts into perspective and helps increase our faith.

Mat

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